Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Global Warming and Gaia

We like to have causes. They can be religious or secular,and we love to jump onto bandwagons and bore everyone else with our latest cause. Mine is global warming and Gaia. But I'm not jumping onto any bandwagon because I have had this interest from when I was in junior school and then spent years at university studying it. It wasn't called environmentalism or global warming then, it was called soil conservation and grassland management and ecology in the country of my birth, because grassland was mostly what our natural environment was. Grasslands,with little forest. We had sixty nine different grassland types consisting of hundreds of different species of grasses and savannah trees, each having their own niche. It was grass that held the soil together and prevented its loss, and when it was damaged and the biodiversity reduced, soil eroded leaving behind impoverished farms.Worse than that, in the west of the country grassland gradually gave way to arid desert because as the light reflecting grasses were overgrazed they were replaced by darker coloured desert bushes which absorbed the heat. The soil heated up and as the air passed over, it in turn heated and dried the areas to the east, increasing the desertfication even further.A vicious cycle.The picture below shows what happens when the grassland is badly treated. The light grasses on the left are replaced by the dark bushes.(Charles Tidmarsh)


When I was in junior school the worlds population was less than two billion and now it is six and a half billion, and most are under twenty five years old which means that most only have experience of a world with this massive population and perhaps don't fully appreciate the strain that is being put on the environment because for them that is how it has always been. This makes me very pessimistic about about our future on this planet,so I suppose I should be joining the end timers bandwagon.Behold the end is nigh! An article on BBC World highlights the problem. Global warming is caused by hot air and all the conferences do is generate hot air. People in New Zealand and elsewhere are made to feel good by using eco light bulbs as if that is going to solve the problem while they drive gas guzzling SUVs and humvees, refusing to use cheap public transport and generally using the earths non renewable resources without a care

Everyone wants to have an improved standard of living. China and India are hellbent on becoming wealthy like the western nations and why shouldn't they, but before they do, something will have to give.The worlds population continues to rise and will do so till it reaches about nine billion,four and a half times what it was when I was a kid.We can't reduce the population when it is already here, it would be politically incorrect but nature may have to do it for us in one way or another,or are we just too cute.

I am aghast at the amount of fossil energy being used to light up, warm up and cool down the northern hemisphere, and as soon as there is a heat wave consumption goes up with all the airconditioners. As the global warming increases so will the airconditions have to work harder. Something will have to give.

Forests are still being cut down. New Zealand cut most of its forests a century ago but now preserves what is left, yet imports native forest timber from other countries that still have dwindling reserves. When the tropical forests go the soils built up over millions of years will lose their organic component through oxidation giving off nitrogen, and carbon dioxide to the air, leaving the soil impoverished, and liable to erode, eventually becoming a desert unable to generate rainfall for other parts.

Young people don't perhaps all realise just how things have changed during the last few years of their lives because that is all they know but they are the ones that will have to deal with it.There is little time left and I haven't the slightest idea what can be done because all I see are hundred of reports on how we are increasing greenhouse gases thus increasing global warming and damageing the environment. I see little evidence of anyone changing their habits over much. I have neighbours who have been working for a newly rich couple in the UK. They won't conserve water, or energy. They keep their swimming pool at a constant warm temperature the whole year even though it is used but a few days at a cost of US$4000 a month, and the underfloor heating is left on all the time even when they are absent.The few that are really trying wouldn't have be using much anyway.


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